Monday, December 29, 2008

The Deep End of the Ocean

It's not that I haven't been reading over the holidays--I haven't been posting reviews! I've read several books this month, and am eager to share them with you.

The first one I have to recommend is general market fiction, The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard.
The Deep End of the Ocean, published in 1996, was not only Jacquelyn Mitchard’s debut novel, it was the debut novel in Oprah’s Book Club. I can’t think why it took me so long to get around to reading this gripping, suspenseful book, but having read it, I can’t get it out of my mind.
The Deep End of the Ocean hooked me from the first page. I picked it up one evening recently and 110 pages later finally gave in to my burning eyes and turned off the light. The story begins in a crowded hotel lobby, where Beth Cappadora is registering for a room. She leaves her seven and three-year-old sons together while she talks to the desk clerk, and when she turns around, three-year-old Ben is gone. How could he have disappeared in a hotel lobby filled with people, none of whom remember seeing him?
The novel explores the impact of his disappearance on Ben’s parents, siblings, and extended family. There are twists and turns throughout the plot. Suffice to say, Mitchard’s novel takes the reader in unexpected directions. The book is skillfully written, using the alternating points of view of Ben’s mother and older brother. Mitchard nails both viewpoints perfectly.
I think one reason I hesitated to read The Deep End of the Ocean for such a long time was that I feared it would be depressing. It isn’t. I completely recommend this book for adult readers. To use a film rating, I’d give it an “R” for adult themes and language, and an A+ for being one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
A note to my readers who are also writers: In the Author’s Interview at the back of the book, Jacquelyn Mitchard is asked what advice she would give to aspiring writers. Here’s her reply: “Two pieces of advice, and they’re in order of importance. One, read a lot more than you think you have time for. And two, never let anyone talk you out of your dreams.” I agree completely.
If you’ve already read The Deep End of the Ocean, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Please leave a comment.


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